Gap Year Scholarships and Grants for Students

Gap Year Scholarships and Grants for Students

A gap year is a break typically taken between high school and college or during undergraduate studies. It has gained popularity for its potential to provide invaluable life experiences, personal growth, and clarity on future academic and career paths. However, the costs associated with a gap year can be prohibiting a lot of students from embarking on this journey of self-discovery and general growth.


Fortunately, numerous scholarships and grants are available to support students in funding their gap year adventures.

The Benefits of a Gap Year

  • Before diving into the specifics of scholarships and grants, it’s essential to understand why taking a gap year can be beneficial:
  • Personal Growth: A gap year can provide invaluable life experiences that contribute to personal development.
  • Academic Improvement: Many students return from a gap year with renewed focus and better academic performance.
  • Career Exploration: It offers a chance to explore potential career paths through internships, volunteering, or job shadowing.
  • Cultural Awareness: Living and working in different cultural settings can broaden one’s perspective and increase cultural sensitivity.
  • Skill Development: Practical skills such as language proficiency, problem-solving, and independence are often enhanced during a gap year.

Types of Gap Year Scholarships and Grants

  1. Program-Specific Scholarships: Many organizations that offer structured gap year programs also provide scholarships. These can cover partial or full program costs. Example is The Global Citizen Year Scholarship offers need-based financial aid for students enrolling in their international immersion programs.
  2. Independent Travel Scholarships: These scholarships are designed for students planning their own independent travel or projects. Example is The Travel Access Project offering grants to students planning self-directed gap year experiences.
  3. Volunteer-Based Grants: Organizations that arrange volunteer opportunities often have grants or scholarships for participants. Example is Projects Abroad which offers a range of scholarships for volunteers, especially those in underserved communities.
  4. Academic Institution Scholarships: Some universities and colleges offer scholarships to students taking a gap year, either as deferred admission or as part of their financial aid packages.The Princeton University’s Bridge Year Program provides financial support for students participating in their structured gap year program.
  5. Non-Profit and Foundation Grants: Numerous non-profit organizations and foundations offer grants specifically for gap year students. The USA Gap Year Fairs Scholarship provides financial aid to students attending their affiliated gap year programs.

Applying for Gap Year Scholarships and Grants

  1. Research and Identify Opportunities: Use dedicated websites like GoOverseas and Gap Year Association to find available scholarships and grants. Consult with high school or college counselors who may have information about specific opportunities.
  2. Prepare Your Application: Craft a compelling narrative about why you want to take a gap year and how it aligns with your personal and professional goals. Obtain strong recommendations from teachers, employers, or community leaders and detail how you plan to use the scholarship or grant funds, including a breakdown of expected expenses.
  3. Submit Your Application: Ensure you follow the application guidelines precisely, including deadlines and required documents. Thoroughly proofread your application materials to avoid any errors that could detract from your submission.
  4. Follow Up: After submitting, confirm that your application was received and be prepared for potential interviews as part of the selection process.

Types of Gap Year Scholarships and Grants

Gap year scholarships and grants come from various sources, including non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and government programs. These financial aids typically cover different aspects of a gap year, such as travel expenses, program fees, and living costs.


1. Non-Profit Organizations and Foundations

Numerous non-profit organizations and foundations provide scholarships specifically for gap year students. Some notable ones include:

The Fulbright Program: The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. This prestigious program enables students to conduct international research or teach English abroad.


Global Citizen Year: Global Citizen Year offers need-based financial aid to students who participate in their leadership development programs in countries like Brazil, Ecuador, and India. Their scholarships can cover up to 100% of the program fee.

Rotary Youth Exchange: The Rotary Youth Exchange program provides scholarships for high school students to spend a year studying abroad, immersing themselves in a new culture and language.


2. Educational Institutions

Many colleges and universities support students who opt for a gap year by offering deferred admission and, in some cases, financial aid.

Princeton University: Princeton offers the Princeton University Bridge Year Program, which allows incoming freshmen to spend a tuition-free year of service abroad before starting their studies. This program covers travel, insurance, and living expenses.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: The Carolina Global Initiative Award supports students at UNC-Chapel Hill in pursuing global opportunities, including gap year experiences. The award is need-based and can be applied towards travel and program costs.

3. Government Programs

Certain government initiatives also provide funding for gap year programs, particularly those involving volunteer work or cultural exchange.

Peace Corps: While not a traditional gap year program, the Peace Corps offers an opportunity for graduates to volunteer abroad for two years, with comprehensive support that includes a living allowance and a readjustment stipend upon completion.

AmeriCorps: AmeriCorps provides stipends and educational awards for participants who engage in service projects across the United States. These awards can be used to pay for college or to repay student loans.

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